Saturday Odds & Sods: Drinking Again

Subway Portrait by Walker Evans

The weather roller coaster continues in New Orleans but nobody cares because the Saints are playing the Rams in the NFC championship game tomorrow. Our loud fans are bound to blow the roof off the Superdome and it’s going to be raucous everywhere in town. There’s some overconfidence among the fans but very little on the team itself. I still refuse to say Who Dat but I will say Geaux Saints.

In other local news, the Rolling Stones are playing Jazz Fest. I’ve seen the Stones 6 times, but I’m not shelling out $185 for their special day, which is especially expensive. I may just have to listen for free from my top-secret location nearby. Here’s my  only comment on the continuing gentrification of Jazz Fest:

This week’s theme song, Drinking Again, was written in 1962 by Johnny Mercer and Doris Tauber. We have versions by two of the greatest singers ever: Aretha Franklin and Francis Albert Sinatra. Bottoms up.

The song was reworked in 1968 by the Jeff Beck Group:

I hope you’re not too tipsy to jump to the break.

We begin our second act by setting the dial on the Wayback Machine to 1919.

Prohibition At 100: January 16th was the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 18th Amendment, which led to that doomed social experiment known as prohibition. Everything about prohibition backfired: it was supposed to lead to less corruption, less drinking, and increased morally upright behavior. The opposite turned out to be true. It was good, however, for bootleggers such as Arnold Rothstein, George Remus, and Al Capone.

In honor of the not so great experiment, I direct your attention to 3 swell articles about different aspects of prohibition:

  • Women & Prohibition: The conventional wisdom blames prohibition on the ladies. Mark Lawrence Schrad argues against the CW in an excellent piece at Politico Magazine. I think he won the morning.
  • The Klan & Prohibition: It’s fairer to blame the Klan for the excesses of prohibition than Carrie Nation’s axe. The Klan leveraged the Volstead Act to increase its political power, which began to diminish upon Al Smith’s winning the Democratic nomination in 1928. The wets eventually won.  Lisa McGirr has the details at the Failing New York Times.
  • How Prohibition Shaped Harlem is a fascinating article by Susan Schulten about the cultural impact of the not so great experiment as documented by the artist, Elmer Simms Campbell,. There are some pretty darn awesome names dropped in this piece: Cab Calloway and Duke Ellington among others.

I may have to pour myself a shot of bourbon after all that booze talk.

Before we move on, it’s time for a brief musical interlude from the Iceman:

Tip O’Neill &  Impeachment: I just finished re-reading The Final Days. Woodstein’s contemporaneous account tends to minimize many of the aspects of Watergate that are emphasized today. The Goldwater-Scott-Rhodes trip to the Oval Office was more about keeping Tricky Dick on track to resign as opposed to planting the idea in his head. His staff wanted elected officials to be involved in the end game so it wouldn’t look like a staff coup. It worked.

In a piece at Politico Magazine, John Aloysius Farrell argues that Tip O’Neill was more important to House impeachment activities than previously thought. And Farrell ought to know: he’s written biographies of both Nixon and Tip.

As Majority Leader during Watergate, Tip did a lot of back room finagling to keep the impeachment train on track and appropriately timed. And there was no better back room operator than Thomas Philip O’Neill Jr.

I got an enormous kick out of this section about Tip’s dealings with House Judiciary Chairman Peter Rodino of New Jersey:

The key to the end game was Rodino from New Jersey—soft-spoken, impeccably barbered and given to such stylish flourishes as Chesterfield coats, silk ties and elevator shoes. Albert and O’Neill stood by him when others wanted to take the investigation from Judiciary and appoint a select committee. Rodino shared O’Neill’s belief that in order to be credible, the committee’s report had to have the votes of the panel’s Southern Democrats and some moderate Republicans. The chairman backed away from any arm-twisting or intimidation: If a majority were to take shape, it would have to come from the members themselves. Eventually, a fragile coalition of Southerners and Republican moderates began meeting, and agreed that Nixon had abused his power and obstructed justice.

There were times when Rodino’s deliberate pace drove the man he called “Tippy” to distraction. “Tip spent a lot of time with Rodino, sitting him down, giving him courage,” Judiciary Committee staffer Francis O’Brien told me. “There were many of these sessions where Tip O’Neill, this large human being, was sitting next to this small man with perfect hair—threatening him!”

Farrell thinks that Tip’s handling of the Nixon impeachment provides a road map for Nancy Smash when the time comes to impeach Trump. I agree wholeheartedly: timing matters as much in politics as in everyday life. Even though she was there, NDP should take another look at Newt Gingrich’s handling of the Clinton impeachment as an example of how NOT to handle impeachment.

Shorter Adrastos: Be like Tip, not like Newt.

Let’s take a trip across the Pacific to New Zealand: birthplace of Neil and Tim Finn and Peter Jackson.

Bad Tourists: New Orleans has more than its share of bad tourists. A friend of mine who lives in the French Quarter used to have a mail slot until, that is, some drunken frat boy peed through the slot. I am not making this up. My friend said he wished he’d been there to hit the boy in the balls with a ball peen hammer. Ouch.

In a hilarious piece at Slate, Kiwi writer Tess Nichol asks the immortal question: Why Is All Of New Zealand Obsessed With This Drunken, Littering, Rowdy Tourist Family? The good news is that they’re Ugly Brits, not Ugly Americans.

Here’s a brief description of the activities of the tourist family from hell:

For weeks, a terrible family of unruly tourists has wrought a trail of destruction from Auckland all the way to Hamilton. A large man in red shorts and a white tank top, a woman in a unicorn onesie, and a small, angry boy are the unwilling public faces of this terrible family who number about 12, according to multiple witnesses.

It all kicked off on Monday when Kiwi social media was flooded with video footage from an Auckland beach. The video showed a Kiwi woman confronting a tourist about rubbish they’d left strewn along the beach, including beer bottles and baby wipes. (Littering is a fineable offence in New Zealand as well as heavily culturally frowned upon.)

The woman shooting the video, Aucklander Krista Curnow, said she was intimidated by several adults in the group before being threatened by a shirtless boy of about 9 wearing an oversized straw hat. In the video, the boy, having detected his family’s honor is being called into question and marching purposefully into the fracas, shouts, “I’ll knock your brains out!”

That creepy kid is clearly a cheeky chappy.

The family cut their New Zealand sojourn short because of the mean old Kiwis bothering them. That gives me the perfect segue to a song written by New Zealand’s own Neil Finn:

Now that we’ve had “a blind date with destiny,” it’s time for our third act featuring our somewhat irregular regular features.

The Weekly GV: Here’s a profile of the Master by Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes.

I got the impression that Wallace respected Gore as a fellow shit stirrer. It’s one of the things about GV I liked as well. I’ve been known to do a bit of shit stirring myself. Anyone surprised? I would hope not. I’ve trained y’all better than that in the past 9 years.

Let’s return to the bibulous theme of this Saturday post.

Saturday GIF Horse: Are you ready to see Charlie Chaplin at cocktail hour?

Bottoms up, Charlie.

It’s time to revisit the early days of MTV before it became the home of The Jersey Shore. Where have you gone, Snooki? Please stay there. Okay?

Weekly Vintage Music Video: One of the best bands to come out of England in the late 1970’s was fronted by a bad ass chick from Ohio. As far as I know, Chrissie Hynde was not a bad tourist.

It’s time to shut things down with some music.

Saturday Classic: Anita O’Day was one of the most interesting artists of her era. She knew her way around a torch song as you can see on this splendid 1958 album.

Did I say see? I meant hear. In any event, Anita never got tired of winning. Believe me.

That’s it for this week. Our closing meme shows young Nancy D’Allesandro with her family and the REAL John Kennedy in the Oval Office. Her father, Baltimore Mayor, Tommy D’Alessandro, was appointed to some board by JFK. The good news is that Baby Nancy Smash doesn’t look bored by the board swearing-in.

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